Spotlight by: Mehreen F. Ali Dawn – January 9, 2005
What is it about City FM89 that other radio stations fall short of ? The music, the RJs, or may be the right blend of both. Soon after celebrating the 100th episode of his programme, Sohail Hashmi, host of The Morning Show, talks of his venture what he calls the “radio business”
Sohail seems content and enthusiastic about his presentation. “It has worked out really well. People like my voice and I also present with an amount of sincerity, no fake accents or any thing of the sort.”
He also seems to be quite an advocate of etiquette: “I believe in politeness and giving respect to the person who picks up the phone and makes the call. I try to put myself in that person’s shoes and think how I would like to treated.”
But radio is just a letter part to his list of credentials. Born in the UK, he was called from London by then minister, Mushahid Hussain, to take charge as director marketing for PTV. He came for two years and then returned to the UK.
This time round, his return to Pakistan seems to have been driven both by commercial as well as creative motives. “I was living and earning quiet well in the UK. But I also had to cook my own food and pay a bunch of hefty taxes and bills. It was then that I realized how wonderful it would be to live in Pakistan as I could afford a servant and several luxuries.
He chatters on enthusiastically: “Here, I concentrate on so many things like radio, direction, Production, which I may never have been able to do had I been living abroad. At my age I really want to focus on the things I want to do.
After having established his production house in Pakistan, his prime interest remains in making telefilms. “Radio has helped me a lot in my field. It has brought me into contact with has brought me into contact with a lot of people and opened up a number of opportunities. Besides, I get over with my job by mid-morning, and it gives me plenty of time for acting, direction and production.”
His morning show has a rather electric listener ship, ranging from school-goers and housewives to corporate travelers and senior citizens. As to how he carters to such a diverse audience, Sohail finds that locals audiences don’t really seem to know the difference between various genres of music. “In Pakistan, I have just found the terms ‘rock’ or ‘pop’ as far as music is concerned. There is a lot of music in the middle as well like jazz, jazz funk, reggae soul and soul-funk which people probably do listen to but haven’t associated a name to it yet. I have tried to reintroduce these genres and I want people to know that this music does exist and is worth listening to”. Among Sohail’s most-played favorites remain Barry White and Will Downing.
He has his own music collection which he carries everyday to the radio station. According to Sohail, it is this collection which has been giving him an edge. “I use the FM library occasionally, but what makes a difference is the music I play and which I play and which I have collected abroad. I have a very varied spectrum of listeners and I adapt my music to their tastes by mixing it all up.”
His show is thematic and Sohail is adamant about the style of presentation: “My listeners need to be inspired in the morning,” he pronounces. “So, whereas other RJs might have a specific play lists for their shows, I have themes. I may create themes out of the smallest of things, like the weather, if it is inspiring enough. Besides, I also talk about common people’s issues and problems.”
After having worked at a local Asian radio station in London, he confesses he hasn’t really found any real difference between British radio and city FM89. “The tracks we play, the presentation, management, professionalism, it’s really brilliant even the equipment is state of the art. “And as to the competition between different RJs Sohail confides that there might be chances of antagonisms developing in the future “if people are not careful.”
Sohail has had theatrical experience as well as strong marketing background, but it seems that for the time being he has found his end of the rainbow. “I would like to develop and grow better at it. It is relatively new and I don’t see myself doing anything drastic here,” he says with a satisfied shrug.
Abut that is not the end of it. “I will be doing more telefilms and soaps, mostly on social themes. Quality is imperative, along with the fact that I make women look really beautiful in my films,” he chuckles.
He has already made four films – Natalia, Himmat, Thakan, Khaleej and Chingari – all based on women’s social issues. Only time will tell if Sohail Hashmi is the best thing to happen to the FM scene in Pakistan. For the time being, however, things seem to be working out just fine.